Friday, March 26, 2010

Screw the cork!

Could you would you in a bar? Could you would you in a car? I would and I could in a bar and in lands afar and with a Czar... but I would not, could not in a car because that would be irresponsible and foolish and illegal. I guess I lost the rhyme there. What would I do in all those places but a car? I'd screw a cork! So, let's talk about Cork Screws!

Look, there are a hundred ways to take the cork out of a bottle of wine... Well, maybe not a hundred. The fastest way of course is to break the bottle, but that is inadvisable unless you're about to launch a ship or Christen a bridge or something, and the rest of us don't do things like that. We prefer to drink our wine. So... Let me rephrase. There are several ways to take the cork out of a bottle of wine. Let's discuss.


I confess, I have never actually tried a "traditional" cork screw. To me, it looks like too much work. You screw the device into the cork and then you pull... and pull... and pull....... and PULL!!!! Look, it's cheap. You can pick one up for a few bucks. But you don't need to do 5 hours a week of upper-body strength training to enjoy a bottle of wine. There HAS to be a better way!


This thing is GREAT! My absolute favorite cork screw. What? You hate it? Really? My guess is you're not using it properly.

Most folks, like myself, start out trying to pull one of these like they are wielding a good old-fashioned traditional cork screw. That's fine I suppose - You'll get the cork out, but you're going to be downing a dose of Doan's pills with that next sip. And Archimedes... well he is laughing at us. When properly used, this is the least expensive, easiest way to get to the goodies inside that luscious bottle. There are four steps to proper usage - if you know them, skip ahead to the next de-corking mechanism. If you do not... read on!

First - screw the corkscrew into the cork. Begin by gently, but firmly and consistently applying pressure to the top of the cork - pressing as you manually twist. Just like starting a nail, you have to hold on tight and give it a tap or two before you can hammer it in!

Second - Twist away. Once you have the thing started, just let it go. Give it several good twists until you bury the twisty-screw part (there has to be a real name for that) into the cork.

Third - Pull. This is where most of us make our mistakes. This is where Archimedes laughs and says "give me a place to stand and I will move the earth." What did he know that could move the earth - let alone a cork? Look - This device is all about the application of leverage, and proper
usage is key. You know that metal flip-out part that you keep ignoring? That's the secret. Place that part against the rim of the bottle and hold it firmly in place as you pull up on the opposite end of the black handle. Look! I took the picture to the left after barely giving a tug - let alone breaking a sweat!

Fourth: Enjoy your wine! The bottom line is that this is a great, easy to use, compact, and inexpensive corkscrew! You can pick it up anywhere for under $5. Buy one!


This is a lovely cork screw. The Rabbit is one of the latest innovations in the art of removing corks from bottles - and it is certainly a pleasure to use. The big concern I have is the cost. Now, before I begin I must admit to owning one of these. I think I paid around $20 for mine ten years ago. It's a nice device. It came with an extra screw and a blade for removing the foil wrap from the cap of the bottle. Predictably, I lost the replacement screw and the blade...

This little guy (aww aren't rabbits cute) really does make cork-removal a snap. Just clamp the device around the cap of the bottle; push down; pull up. Voila! What could be simpler?

The real question is what could be, what is more expensive and obtuse? You're going to spend more than you need on one of these. That's the bottom line. And did I say "little?" No... Must have been a mistake. This guy takes up a lot of space. Mine won't fit into my kitchen gadget drawer. I have to keep it in a cabinet. Yeah it's easy to use, but why spend the money for something that won't fit in a drawer?


Look... it has wings! This is a fine cork screw if it's what you like. It's simple to operate. Just place the guide around the rim of the bottle, twist the handle until the wings rise completely, and then push the wings down to extract the cork. This isn't bad. It's easy to use and efficient. My only beef is the price. It will set you back around $10. It isn't too expensive, but you can achieve de-corked bottle bliss for less for the same time investment with a waiter corkscrew. Save your money.


Seriously? Okay - I get it. Maybe you have arthritis. Maybe you can only use one arm. Or, maybe you're just lazy.

Whatever the case, this handy device will remove a cork and you'll never break a sweat! How do I know? Well... I don't. I don't have $100 to spend on a bottle of wine. I certainly don't have $100 to spend on a cork screw!

Cork-less bottles

Sometimes bottles don't have corks. These bottles can be great, and they can be terrible. I just picked up a bottle of a 2006 Italian... Monte Antico Toscana (a blend of Sangiovese, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon) for $11.99 (review coming soon). According to my local wine merchant, this is a wonderfully delicious sip of wine. Then again, Mad Dog 20/20 has a screw-top cap. And I won't even bother to characterize the flavors of that bottle.

Happy un-corking!

1 comment:

  1. Last night on No Reservations, there was a debate about whether there is a big difference between cork and screw top bottles. Bourdain's comment: "The difference is, your less likely to get laid after dinner if your wine is a screw top"

    Any thoughts? I've actually never focused on the flavor difference... I just assumed a corked bottle is better.